The education and training of young Zambians in crop and livestock farming is of paramount important for the future of the country. The rapidly growing population and the climatic risks – which farming all over the world has to face – make a professional training in agriculture necessary. In a two-year course the students, provided they have a general school education, can be trained to be farmers. The students attend classes in crop and livestock production, soils and grazing land management. Math for business and farm management are also part of the curriculum. A lot of emphasis is placed on practical work.
The students finance the training through the sales of their vegetables which they grow in the context of their practical work. Every student receives a piece of land for vegetable production. This allows for a lot of practical instruction as well as the possibility for the students to try out improved production methods.
In this respect the agricultural school at Twin Fountains differs totally from similar colleges. The principle: if it does not cost anything it is not worth anything is very true. Billions of development aid has been pumped into developing countries over the last 50 years, but very little can be shown in real development. On the contrary many of the receiving countries are degraded to permanent beggars. The possibility for the students to produce and sell their vegetables through the established marketing system enables the students to finance themselves. They do not have to look for sponsors or go around relatives begging for help to pay school fees. At the same time this is more than raising money it is part of the practical training.
In 2018 the two-year training cost the students about $ 1400 which is roughly the average Zambian per capita income for two years. Students who make a good effort with their vegetable production do not only pay for their school fees but save up money which is paid out to them on graduation day. In 2008, the best student vegetable production year so far, the top three students received about $ 4.200, the balance of their accounts which was quite a good starting capital for their own business.
Looking around the world it is clear that culture and religion greatly influence how people behave and work. Therefore, Christian values and ethics are important and are taught in addition to the agricultural courses. Topics like family, sex, witch craft, business ethics as well as an introduction to other religions like Islam are part of the overall training.
From 1979 to 1988 Klaus and Christiane worked at Namwianga Christian Secondary School. During his time of teaching agriculture as part of the secondary school program it became clear to Klaus that this little bit of class room work did not prepare the pupils for a future career in farming, because the very important practical aspect of such training was missing.
But Zambia is in desperate need of good farmers, people who have some professional training. The permanent water shortages at Namwianga Mission made it impossible to even envisage such a training program. A large country like Zambia often is not capable of producing enough basic food (mainly corn) to feed it population. It is clear that something is definitely wrong with the way farming is conducted. Although there are thousands of families trying to produce some grain and other foods, the production methods simply have not kept pace with the population growth.
Klaus therefore looked around Zambia to see how agricultural training was organized. There was the top agricultural college, the Natural Resource development College in the capital Lusaka. This school produced mainly “desk farmers” for the Ministry of Agriculture. Then there was Monze College of Agriculture, a slightly more practically oriented teaching program. However, the facilities for practical work by the students were very poor. At the time about 97 % of the graduates of that college also ended up in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Mpika College of Agriculture in the Northern Province was the most practically oriented school but again the college “farm” was so run down that one had to ask what the students could possibly learn there.
The land at Namwianga Mission being about 2500 ha or 5500 acres could be the ideal place for some farm training. However, the water problems made it necessary to look for other venues. In 1986 a farm, in the vicinity of Namwianga, was up for sale and on visiting there Klaus found two wells, the better of which produced as much water as the existing 5 wells at Namwianga. After a lengthy bureaucratic process that farm was finally registered as the farm for Twin Fountains Farm Ltd, of which Klaus and Christiane are the major shareholders. This enabled them to begin realizing their goal of establishing a school for agriculture.
Twin Fountains has an area of 1200 ha or about 2600 acres. Now a lot of work was put into developing the place. There were few buildings, a large farm house, the old Kalomo hunting club building as well as some tobacco barns. There was no electricity, bricks for building had to be hand made using termite hill clay as raw material. Some of the building materials like doors and windows had to be brought from South Africa, about a two days trip (one way). With the help of six employees, as well as Gerold Gündisch and Peter Klöckner, two biology teachers from Germany the school was built. Klaus had befriended John Imbwae, the instructor at a school for builders and so most of the construction work was actually done by his students with the supervision of their teacher. That school had been looking for some practical work for their students and the building not just of one building but several buildings from the foundation to the top of the roof gave those students practical exposure which otherwise they would not have gotten. Much of the furniture, chairs, tables, desks etc. were donated and brought in containers from Germany.
After completing offices, class rooms student accommodation and the first two teachers houses classes finally started with the first four students in 1993.
From 1993 to 1995 Joachim and Katrin Kretzschmar were teaching at Twin Fountain. In 1998 a second student hostel was built to accommodate female students. Since then Twin Fountain is training between 25 and 35 young Zambians every year.
Besides Klaus Müller there are currently three Zambian teachers at the College.